Music Reviews



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Artist: FANU, BILL LASWELL (@)
Title: Lodge
Format: CD
Label: Karlrecords (@)
Rated: *****
Hey, this another fine product featuring Laswell as a producer and Robert Musso as engineer, do you need anything more to figure out how the sound is like?. Beside the production the mighty hand of the "white ambassador of bass" Laswell and Fanu's break-beat skill characterize the rhythm section of this cd. Soft and groovy bass, stylish and pounding rhythms but differently from the collaboration with Submerged there's no trace of break-core, don't worry the usual "drum and bass" element is there but the atmosphere this time is way more jazzy, you have break-beat and classy fusion but also splinters of the post-Miles Davis era scattered all over the crime scene. Nils Peter Molvaer is a member of the crew as well as Bernie Worrell and Graham Haynes and with sailors like these you can bet the ship is gonna sail thru the warm water of modern black music, but at the same time don’t expect it to be a black album to the core. I think what this people really inherited from Davis (sorry for repetitions) is the global approach to music, atmosphere and introspection, that’s way I thing they get the most right when they twist and reshape jazz and funk to melt them together with dance-floor beats and/or nightly moods (like in Orh). I can’t say in which percentage Fanu did this and Laswell that for their styles on this work are really complementary and probably the arrangements of these top class hosts helped a lot to refine and keep together what was an already well assorted combination. Poor Miles, I’m sure he would have loved to be featured among the guests.


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Artist: Rent Romus' Lords of Outland
Title: You Can Sleep When You're Dead
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distrubution Alliance
Rated: *****
Rent Romus’s Lords of Outland’s latest release "You Can Sleep When You’re Dead" is definitely an album that will keep you awake and on your toes with its in your face blend of free-jazz, hardcore, and experimental electronica. The album offers an abrasive collection of tracks that sounds like James and Chance and the Contortions on some dangerous mixture of meth and speedballs. The songs are mostly comprised of noise jazz played on the saxophone, drums, and bass, with electronics being used minimally for added effect. However, as abrasive as the music is, it is much easier on the ears than John Zorn’s hardcore jazz works. And for you Zorn fans out there, this album doesn’t have any Japanese guys screaming gibberish. Additionally, the album also has some more relaxed moments, in that the pace is slower such as tracks like "The Demonic Circus of Certified Insular Asshogs" and "Disturbing Emergence" (FYI, I hear that the process for obtaining Insular Asshog Certification is rigorous). Though, even with these mellower tracks the album as a whole has an intensity to it that makes me fidgety and unsettled, especially with its off-time tempos and cluttered percussion. And this is coming from some one that listens to Merzbow while he studies. So, if you enjoy out there free jazz and noise music, then I would recommend this album. If you are looking for something more electronic, than Lords of the Outland would probably not be your cup of tea.
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Artist: Marc Manning and Yann Novak (@)
Title: Pairings
Format: CD
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Upon first listening to Marc Manning and Yann Novak’s collaborative endeavor cleverly titled "Pairings," I thought to myself, "this is the soundtrack to some futuristic themed ride at Disney’s EPOCT center." And you know the rides I’m talking about, the one’s that depict some utopian and unrealistically peaceful Buck Rogers-esue future with pod shaped spaceship cars, robot housekeepers, television phones, but I digress. The point is that the first two tracks were generic, uninspired, and vapid. However, things take a significant turn for the better starting with track 3 and exponentially improve thereafter. "Pairing 2 pt. 2" is a brilliant matching of droning electronic noise and subtle, yet strategically placed acoustic guitar patterns and ethereal string orchestrations. This general pattern continues on "Pairing 3 pt. 1 which gets slightly more complex with manipulated flamenco guitar samples and richer sound textures that seamlessly culminates with the album’s closing track "Paring 3 pt. 2 which is a 10 minute piece that crescendos between lush and layered ambient textures and unsettling silence. They key element of these three tracks is that they are thoughtfully and tastefully composed to the extent that it manages to sound simplistic and spacious when there is in fact quite a lot going on musically. With the exception of the two opening tracks, which I already discussed ad nauseum, "Pairings," (which I don’t think is cleverly titled in case you didn’t pick up the sarcasm) is a very interesting album that works and transcends beyond your run of the mill drone music which I’m sure was developed by the CIA for the sake of getting information from terrorists until they realized that Metallica works much better.
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Artist: 15 Degrees Below Zero (@)
Title: New Travel
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distrubution Alliance
Rated: *****
15 Degrees Below’s recent release "New Travel" is an attempt at a neo-musique concrete sound that is built upon sampled sounds and melodies that are chopped up and reconfigured into a collection of cinematic soundscapes. While the album is very well produced and has an exceptionally good sound quality, it doesn’t really grab or excite you in any way. The problem with this record is that it is simply "typical experimental music." While this phrase may sound like somewhat of an oxymoron in that the goal of experimental music is to be untypical, what I mean here is that in the thirty years that have passed since artists started producing this type of cut and paste music a number of trademark elements have developed that are frequently used and have become synonymous with the genre such as chopped up improve guitar patterns, the random placement of electronic sounds and feedback, and distorted free jazz and lounge samples, all of which this album has. For example, the tracks "Circumference" and "Sunday Drive" for most part sounds like every song that Fred Frith has ever recorded. Though to give credit where it is due there are a few promising tracks on the album such as "Westward," which blends country western style guitar playing with a simplisitc ambient background and "Untitled Tube" which uses distorted guitar sounding samples and subdued ambient synths to a create a mood of hopelessness. These two tracks are the shining stars of "New Travel" in that they achieve something that many experimental artists can not, which is using unconventional methods to create music that stirs the emotions. If the whole album went in this direction it would have been something special, but unfortunately it did not and was thus dull and does not really offer much that has not already been done before and beaten to death by most experimental artists, which is a shame given that there is definitely the potential to do so.
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Artist: Subheim (@)
Title: Approach
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik (@)
Rated: *****
Subheim’s debut "Approach" offers a laidback down tempo sound that cohesively incorporates an array of musical influences such as EBM, IDM, classical, ambient, and dronology. Haling from Greece, Subheim is the output of musician and graphic artist Kostas K with occasional contributions from female vocalist Katja. "Approach’s" sound can best described as a mixture between Delerium’s early forays into dark electronic soundscapes and Brian Eno’s piano driven ambient compositions such as "Discreet Music" and "Thursday Afternoon." Subheim tastefully blends conventional and electronic music elements into a rich yet subtle sound that is built upon carefully layering a variety of simple parts. Furthermore, Kostas K manages to use electronics in a way that sounds very organic and fluid, which gives the music some emotion. Some of the more evocative pieces on the album include "Ybe 76," which is a melds ambient soundscapes and down-tempo EBM beats with simple yet elegant piano line and "Stranded," which uses ethereal ambient strong arrangements to create a melancholic sense of isolation and despair. Another interesting aspect of Subheim’s sound is that when the female vocals are employed, they are done so in a very subdued way that simply makes it another instrument that feeds into the wall of sound that Kostas K creates as is made evident on the track "Howl." I would highly recommend this album to anyone who likes down-tempo electronica, ambient and world music.
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